The gift that keeps on teaching
I can without a doubt tell you that my children have taught me more about life than any books or education.
Last week Jude woke up and said, "Mom, can we just get along today?"
Oh, my sweet boy.
You see, he and I have always struggled with communicating well. We have a deep love for each other, paired with 2 very strong and different wills. He thinks a lot like his father, which is sweet and beautiful. However, I have noted before that Josh and I are completely opposite. The thing that works for us is that we have the same end goal in mind and the same core values and work ethic. To be on opposite pages with your child who can not quite grasp the end goal, and still needs to be taught, trained and discipled is nothing short of a challenge.
I have explained (in previous posts) my deep love and admiration for my first born who has captured my heart from the beginning. As deep and wide as my love for him is, I will tell you that there are many days where I have a hard time understanding his demeanor and train of thought.
I will never forget a particular day when I was about 7 months pregnant with Lila and something happened that just set off my little 2 1/2 year old Jude. He became so angry, I put him in his room for a time out and called Josh crying and begging him to come home. Jude was kicking and screaming and I could not reason with him for anything. While I can not quite remember what it was that upset him so much, sometimes it didn't take much.
Sometimes it made him upset if I forgot to take one of his plates or cups over to a friends house so he didn't have to eat off someone else's dishes.
Sometimes he would immediately melt down if a cookie or brownie broke in half, because he could not eat it if it was not whole.
I have learned over the years— whenever my kids are unable to vocalize their struggles and discontentments— I have to change my train of thinking. I have to meet them where they are to communicate the things they are unable to effectively communicate. A lot of the time, I do not do a great job with it. But I do know the heart behind their angst is not disobedience and defiance. A majority of the time, it is simply the frustration of not being able to effectively communicate — and being misunderstood.
Now that I have a 7 year old, he is very bold about just telling me exactly where I am falling short. Today he said, "Mom, you don't play with us very much." Honestly, his words hurt, but they were true and I can not be mad about the truth. As much as I want to get defensive about the things that I have to do as a Mom, those things are not going to matter in the big scheme of things. Constantly having clean dishes is not going to build a child's character, make them feel secure or most importantly, disciple their hearts for the Kingdom of God.
Knowing that I need to play more and balance my tasks better is a daily struggle.
Demanding authority in the pretense that my way is the only way in order to obtain behavior management is a daily injustice.
Parenting is not just about what we do or don't do — what we do really well and what we need to do better. Parenting is largely about how we relate to our kids and build those foundational relationships.
So, what does that look like in the realm of homeschooling when you feel as though you struggle constantly with trying to figure out how to teach a child who is opposite of your learning styles and personality?
To be completely honest, I am still learning.
Just when I think we have overcome an obstacle in homeschooling, Jude will have a hard day and say things like, "Mom, why could God not give us all the information we ever needed to know when we were born so we never have to do school."
Sometimes I find myself in an inner battle. Part of me still gets frustrated on these "hard days" and I vocalize that frustration that he is capable of doing this work by himself and he is capable of doing it well. But recently, through resources I have read, I am coming to understand how invaluable our time homeschooling is together. When I decide to put away all the tasks I would like to get done while my kids are doing schoolwork, and I put away the electronics and sit next to Jude and help him focus on his work, we are more efficient —we get our work done quicker and without the tears, frustrations and hurtful words. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of creativity in thinking of another angle to explain a subject. Sometimes, the answer simply to get up and move or to go for a walk and just talk it out.
When you struggle with trying to discipline a child or teach a child who has a different personality and character than you, the best thing you can do is PRAY, seek wisdom from a mentor and continue to educate yourself and God will give you the strength and wisdom you need to parent, teach and train your child to be the confident unique child of God they were created to be.
When differences in personality arise that challenge our relationship, I will always choose to win over his heart instead of claiming victory over my will and letting the pride of a "win" sneak into my heart.
"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time."
—1 Peter 5:6
I hope to always tend to my kids hearts rather than tend to my "stuff" so they know how deeply loved and valuable they are to me, in a hope that they can see the reflection of my love for them to be the same as Christ's love for them.
When you become a Mom, you get the gift of raising a child whom you get to watch grow and change before your very eyes. I am learning how incredibly important it is to study your child, to know what makes them giggle with delight and what calms their anxious hearts.
Jude my sweet boy who is talking as soon as he wakes up at 6:30 in the morning until he gets out his 500th question of the day around 8:30, really thrives when I stop what I am doing and I take interest in the things he is interested in; legos, video games, rock collections, goofy jokes, dreams and ideas. He gets tickled beyond belief when we can laugh over some silly joke or a blooper of our own words.
He doesn't ask for much, just for us to be present and to be interested in his life. Although that may seem like a given as a parent, I know that we have a hard time showing it when we are constantly multi-tasking... which is another post entirely.
It is beautiful to see how delicately God created life to value the journey. It is not by accident that we are presented with challenges and struggles in and around those that are closest to us.
You can do this Mama. Continue to walk by faith and trust that your child is in the hands of God and believe in your heart that the Holy Spirit if giving you the wisdom and strength you need to continue on your parenting journey.
A few of my favorite resources on raising boys are as follows:
Have a great week friends.